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Poll: how many productive hours do you have in a day?
111 points by caio1982 1268 days ago | hide | past | web | 82 comments | favorite
The other day at work we had a debate about being productive and a few people were surprised when someone said "if you work with computers it's nearly impossible to have your brain wired in productive tasks for more than, on average, 4 hours a day" :-)

Definition of productive hours for this poll: time spent on researching, designing, debugging, testing, coding, supporting, refactoring or any other technical task directly related to these which makes you get in "the zone" or totally focused on a problem.

Exclude: time spent on meetings (no matter the subject, as they can be productive for the team but not for you), managing people (only indirectly related to technical stuff), lunch time, coffee breaks and browsing the web (decompressing) and other minutes not spent on solving problems with computers.

Consider: a somewhat long time span, not just the current week or month.

...and have a happy monday :-)

PS: related poll on how people feel about their working hours at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6810289

2 to 4 hours
585 points
4 to 6 hours
398 points
I've stopped worrying about it, I do what I can when I can
116 points
6 to 8 hours
101 points
1 to 2 hours
69 points
I don't really feel I have productive hours
26 points
I only feel productive when doing overtime or putting in extra hours
6 points

I average about 5.5 hours of focused coding per day. If I really really push hard, I can get to some 6.5, sometimes even 7.

That's normal and I consider myself very productive. But here's the real question, how do you present this info to clients/bosses/entrepreneurs without them throwing a big hissy fit?

This is a big problem when working with people who are heavily and directly invested in the business you're helping because they feel like they're productive 12+ hours a day and feel that you should be too. Most of the time they're just fooling themselves, or their idea of productivity is so different from an engineer's that it's nearly impossible to compare.

Furthermore, so far everyone I've said "Dude, you're not even half as productive as you think" to directly got grossly offended by my suggestion.

I've been trying to get to the bottom of these for a year and a half now (writing a book about this stuff) and I can't say I'm much closer to a solution.

PS: the worst part of this equation is that you're often asked to look productive for 8 or 9 hours a day because that puts people at ease. That makes them feel they're paying you fairly, even though you could easily do the same amount of actual focused work in 7 hours and spend the rest of that time doing other things.

I bet if you get them to REALLY think about it, they know they are not productive more than about 4-5 hours per day.

If they spend 20 minutes writing an e-mail, is that 20 minutes of productive time? I bet it's really only 5 minutes of what is considered 'productive', because they didn't write the e-mail for 20 minutes, they edited for 15, checked other e-mail, etc.etc. When they go to a meeting and it starts out with niceties, and talking about progress updates, etc. etc. Is that 'productive'? Necessary, yes, but productive? No.

We need to look at programming the same way. When I'm setting up my environment, I'm not being productive. When I'm researching a bug I'm fixing, I'm not being productive. When I try a fix and it doesn't work, I'm not being productive. When I'm looking up the most efficient way to write a method, I'm not being productive.

When I'm completely focused on coding, I'm at my most productive. I use a pomodoro timer, and if I really pay attention, I'm hopefully productive for 20 of the 25 minutes. If I get a few of those a day, I'm happy. That's the productivity of our job.

The sad trap I fall into is that if I've been productive for 4 hours in a day, I normally stop being productive, rather than continuing to push through, which I know I should do.

"When I'm setting up my environment, I'm not being productive. When I'm researching a bug I'm fixing, I'm not being productive. When I try a fix and it doesn't work, I'm not being productive. When I'm looking up the most efficient way to write a method, I'm not being productive."

All the activities you mentioned are part of what you're being paid for as a developer, so you should consider yourself to be productive while doing them. If your employer thought that setting up your environment wasn't an essential part of your job, they'd be paying someone else to do it for you. And if they don't want you to write crap code, then finding an efficient way to write a method is also an essential part of your job, and thus productive. And how can you possibly fix a bug without first researching it to figure out the exact conditions that cause it to occur? Even meetings are productive, provided that they allow people to come to an agreement on how to solve a problem (rather just being for status reporting that could be done better with an automated tracking system).

"When I'm completely focused on coding, I'm at my most productive."

What if that code turned out to be the solution to a problem that didn't actually exist? Would you still think you were productive just because you were completely focused on coding at the time?

Now, look at the other side: Let's say that during a meeting, you figured out that some piece of code that your company wanted you to write was completely unnecessary, and it saved them hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars. Wouldn't that be productive?

And if you refactor 1000 lines of code to do everything it did before with just 100 lines of code, is your productivity negative because you threw lines of code away?

As developers, we're paid to solve business problems, not just to generate lines of code.

I completely agree with a lot of what you're saying, but I feel there is a difference between what I 'produce' and what I'm paid for. As you say, I'm paid to solve business problems, so any time that I dedicate to not solving those business problems or improving the business is essentially not productive.

I'm not suggesting we count lines of code, but I'm only actually producing when the code I write makes it into a final product. If I spend 5 hours writing code, and then throw it all away, I'm not productive. When I re-write a bit of code, was I productive the first time and not the second? Was I productive both times? Does it matter what has changed between the time I wrote them both, or why I'm making the change?

Using your example of refactoring 1000 lines of code, if the 1000 lines ends up doing the same as the 100 lines, how have I added value to the business? I may not have, and therefore, that time was unproductive, or I may have added value, and therefore the time was productive.

Interestingly, it seems the definition of productive may be up for debate itself.

"If I spend 5 hours writing code, and then throw it all away, I'm not productive."

Writing throw-away prototype code can be very productive, since it's a way to learn about your domain and the problem you're trying to solve. It can certainly contribute toward making a better final product. If we're trying to solve hard problems, we can't expect to be able to come up with a perfect solution on the first try with no backtracking.

As Thomas Edison said about his numerous unsuccessful attempts to make a light bulb, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Each unsuccessful attempt got him a bit closer to being able to make a working light bulb.

"Using your example of refactoring 1000 lines of code, if the 1000 lines ends up doing the same as the 100 lines, how have I added value to the business?"

Speaking from first-hand experience, sometimes the code base you inherit is so bad that you can't add anything to it without breaking it. By refactoring, you've made it possible to add the new functionality to the code which your customers desperately need. You've also probably made the code more reliable, since there's less stuff in there to break in the future.

On the other hand, if you had code that worked perfectly and didn't require any new features, and you refactored it merely because it offended your sense of esthetics, then you were probably not being productive.

> Each unsuccessful attempt got him a bit closer to being able to make a working light bulb.

Wikipedia on the merger between Edison and Swan - "The lamp bulbs manufactured by the company were almost entirely to Swan's design."

I think that when you dispose of code to create a better solution, say to reduce from 1000-100 lines or throw away a prototype to build a real application it's productive.

It's like throwing away the scaffolding that was supporting a building during construction but is now redundant. It's like removing the stone from the sculpture that isn't part of the figure you're trying to create.

as a former journalist, I have to disagree that editing is unproductive time. Saying exactly what you mean to say is extremely valuable, well-invested time. "I would have written you a shorter letter, but I didn't have the time."

Concise emails really ease the workload by reducing inefficiencies.

Totally agree with this. I'm a software engineer and I would estimate that half of the time I spend writing emails is formatting. I believe this is productive as it takes less effort to communicate. The point here being that communication requires effort by two parties.

An option not listed here is that I think I have bursts of massive productivity that last a few days to a week where I get intensely productive work done with barely a break to eat. 12, 16 hours per day. Then I go a week or so just doing the bare minimum to keep things rolling, which sometimes is zero hours of productive work. That cycle repeats.

Something like this happens to me too.

I have a week where I get massive work done, then 2-4 come, where I can't get up to do anything at all.

Do you think that's a sign of periodic depression? I've been going through a bit of a rough patch, and I was struck by how my mood could sap my motivation to the level where I felt like I couldn't bear to work. It was very revealing; I had often wondered how depression could actually prevent people from going to work, and now I feel like I've come to understand how much that state can interfere with the ability to function. (Not like I didn't already think it was a horrible condition.)

Anyway, not trying to armchair psych, just saying: I hear ya.

I thought about this too, then I quit my job.

Now, that I don't work anymore, I feel much better.

I sleep till I wake up, bike into the city, code for ~4h a day stuff in a café and drive home when I have enough.

But when I got a 40h/week job, the 1 week work and 3 week slack-off pattern was more common :\

Well, now that I feel better, I try to figure out how I can make money with work, that don't requires me to get paid per hour, hehe.

I have similar work habit and, though I wouldn't say it was due to depression, I will become guilty and/or anxious when I'm in one of my low-productivity phases.

Not sure if you'll see my reply (17 hours is an eternity in internet discourse time) but I found your comment interesting. I've also struggled with this guilt/anxiety over low productivity (I think a lot of people do), but I can't decide whether the solution should be trying harder to be productive or letting go of that guilt. Or, to look at it another way: I can't figure out if the anxiety comes from a fundamental psychological need for accomplishment, or if it's a socially conditioned guilt trip imposed by a culture that stresses "reaching your potential."

I mean, what is my potential, really? What is that word actually referring to? Is it a real feature of the world? Does it simply refer to whatever the outcome is of me trying as hard as possible to develop my capabilities in some domain? And if so, is that intrinsically good, or is it just instrumental to some other thing?

Of course, when we die there are no bonus points for how many code commits we made or projects we built or companies we started. So I wonder: should I feel guilty for doing nothing? If I was able to not feel guilty about doing nothing, would that be okay too?

Threads view! Yea, I think I just get anxious that I'm simply not being productive or earning my salary. Sometimes I worry that I won't get back into the zone or be able to pull off something to make up for all the downtime.

I'm trying to just handle it by not worrying as much and accepting that I just work in spurts.

"Anyway, not trying to armchair psych"

But I will. If "can't get up to do anything at all" includes loss of appetite, inability to find enjoyment in things you usually enjoy, excessive sleep, and generally depressed mood, I'd suggest you ask your doctor about possible a possible bi-polar II diagnosis. Especially if the "productive" week also coincides with significant challenges to your ability to socialize.

(I am not a medical expert, but have spent signficant time with someone with bipolar - treatment can help, a lot)

Well, I changed my life and felt better :)

Now I get 3-4h work done 4-5 days a week.

Good luck getting back to work. I personally recognise the "highly productive week" followed by relative unproductive weeks. For me it's a personality thing, and understand when I consider things "done", and what is the "tidy up".

A week of heavy mental activity that completes the design is a lot of fun! Followed by a few weeks of implementation/bug fix/document is not so much fun, and explains my pattern quite well. Trying to find mentally challenging pieces within the slog, and creating challenges for tasks in the slog helps a lot in the quiet weeks.

I highly recommend RescueTime, which tracks exactly this - it looks at what software you are interacting with/what websites you are on, and reports many hours a week you were on your computer and how much of that was productive. For example, last week I was on my computer 30 hours (I had a lot of meetings) and I was productive 75% of that time, which averages to 4.5 hours of productive computer time per workday.

It's neat to track my productive hours per week over time - I can see clear cycles based on projects, number of meetings, and my general motivation level. Some weeks I'll average just 2-3 hours of productive time a day, others I can get close to 6. 5-6 hours seems to be a ceiling on how long I can spend coding in one day.


Seconded. RescueTime is extremely useful to help you drill down and see your actual productive time during any given day. It is self-reinforcing as well as you are more tempted to stick to high-value activities versus hanging out on twitter (HN!) or whatever else distracts you during the day. You'll quickly learn that 5-6 hours per day of actual productive time is really difficult to achieve on a continuous basis.

Exactly. Why guess? Why not know exactly how productive you are?

Last month I was 71% productive as defined by those tasks which are directly leading to output. An average of 5h 36m per working day. My best day was Monday, 14th April. I'm more productive in the afternoon than the morning.

My largest non-productive time block is on this site called news.ycombinator.com.

Also like RescueTime, but for programmers:


I just started using this couple of weeks ago and has been really helpful so far. I now have an idea what's the reason behind not getting something done on a particular day.

A more valuable question is: how do you make yourself more productive?

I am just using this for a couple of weeks, but sometimes looking at the hard numbers makes you realize where exactly you spend your non-productive time and where it can be avoided.

That is why you should always try to work on flat rate. The most productive people are not working 10 hours a day. They spend their 4 productive hours doing the really difficult stuff, and spend the rest of their work day reading or doing mindless project management type tasks.

A lot of people don't understand the distinction of being productive and appearing busy.

> "if you work with computers it's nearly impossible to have your brain wired in productive tasks for more than, on average, 4 hours a day" :-)

Definitely truth. IMHO the real problem of our productivity is The Internet.

I just find these kinds of statements to be more self-justification than anything else.

"No one should ever work more than 40 hours a week!"

"Productivity beyond 4 hours a day is impossible!"

Why must I shackle myself to these seemingly arbitrary limitations that other people have? If I'm having fun coding something for 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week, and I feel I can sustain this output, why do I have to limit myself?

Maybe I (or someone who's able to do this) can just work harder than you (or someone who can't do this). What's the big deal?

As someone who's been there done that: throttling yourself a little bit is a lot more productive in the long-term.

I used to work to the point of exhaustion. Now I work to a clock I've come up with empirically. This means that instead of having bursts of super productivity followed by weeks/months of tiredness or simple "Meh, that's not interesting" I can trod along, putting one foot in front of the next, with a consistent pace. Day in, day out. You might outsprint me today, but I will be there when you're tired, and I will be walking at the same pace I am now.

I am an orc. I do not stop. I do not tire. I just go. Forever. At a constant pace. I will outplod you.

Persistence is humanity greatest natural asset next to intelligence. Use it. We are very bad sprinters.

    I am an orc. I do not stop. I do not tire.
On a side note, you're probably thinking of the Uruk-hai, not the orcs. When the Uruk-hai have captured Merry and Pippin and are running towards Isengard, they boast that they can run both day and night - unlike orcs, who would prefer to hide during the day and move only at night.

I find the best way to accomplish this is a more scientific task breakdown. When a road block is encountered that would normally disrupt flow I stand back and analyze the subproblem with new desired outcomes.

The most time consuming and frustrating problems usually have some element of psychological aversion. Like involving a language, tool or subject matter that I either dislike or don't feel confident in solving. Break down the reasons for the aversion and jump right in!

Just last week I had an issue that I realized could be solved with some judicious GDB. I spent 3 hours just learning the tool, solved my problem and checked off a mental handicap.

Don't require "successful outcomes" all the time, slowly and methodically enjoy the journey and keep on eye on forward progress but don't demand it.

> Don't require "successful outcomes" all the time, slowly and methodically enjoy the journey and keep on eye on forward progress but don't demand it.

Which is exactly where most of these "I can code all day, I can code all day"[1] programmers fail. As soon as an obstacle comes, they crash and burn because they are too used to riding a wave of endorphins.

[1] reference to FPSDoug, in case anyone remembers him.

Gimme one more upvote button, this is a GREAT thought.

It's definitely my way of thinking, since today has worked well, and I'm glad that someone applies it harder than me.

If I'm working on something interesting I can do 8, 10, even 12 hours of coding without being aware of the time passing; but that's not the point, we're talking of averages here.

Also, some people in 2 hours can obtain the same results of me doing 8 hours of work - that's about quality, so the "woking-harder" it's not a valid argument: the real problem is "working focused"

You want to play a word game? Fine. Substitute whatever words you'd use for "working focused" with every time I used the words "working hard".

The point stands. Maybe I (or someone) just works harder/more focused, for longer, than you (or someone else). Why should that person hold themselves to your standards and not theirs?

If you're able to pull it off, good for you. Rest of us, as this and numerous other discussions here on HN show, find it hard. Its a pretty big deal. You don't really have to complain about it. You're probably the exception, not the rule. :)

In fact, it would be more useful if you can tell us more about how you it.

Is it just an innate ability you've got or something you learnt to do? Do you have any hacks/system like the pomodoro technique?

Do you have off days?

How often do you get 'into the zone' a day? Because, if you can only last a couple of hours in the zone (like me), then to get 8 hours of productive work would take me 12-13 hours to accomodate breaks, food etc. Do you have the luxury of not having to check your mail too often?

If you work with other people, do you notice them working less/more than you?

I doubt I have anything new to add to the conversation.

The things that people say "don't work" or "can't be sustained" do work for me and can be sustained for me. To wit, things people say "do work" and "can be sustained" just don't work well for me.

For example, I'm able to jump back into "flow" quickly when someone knocks me out with a question or need, and I find it hard to put something down once I start working on it, until I've reached a satisfactory end point. I find taking intentional and small, frequent, breaks during the day is disruptive and hurts my productivity (though it's probably healthy for my back and eyes, I suppose).

It's just plain silly to walk around saying "40 hours" is the magic number, or "8 hours" is the maximum anyone can work productively. Averages may be around those values, but for individuals, any point along the line is possible.

I don't know...it's also the solution to productivity. I would waste so much time trying figuring things out without the help of Google, Stack Overflow, API documentation, etc..

Yeah, without them I'd surely be in trouble; but the temptation of opening HN/Reddit every N minutes (and consequently spend two hours looking all those infinitely interesting entries) it's just too strong.

Self-discipline is, no doubt, a real challenge for many developers.

I find this to be pretty helpful: http://selfcontrolapp.com/

About 12. I've optimized my life to a point where I have no outside disturbances beyond my work. I have 3 days left of my day job, then I'm taking my own business full time.

I've been working 7am - 3pm at my day job, 4pm - 11pm at my side projects. Dropping the day job.

Optimized your work life maybe, your life though... I'm not so sure.

Hey, it's all relative. I have no personal life or relationships to speak of, and no projects. Sounds to me like he's doing ok.

I have a few friends and we go out for beers once in awhile to talk, that's the extent of my "social life". Everything else is work.

He's getting out of the corporate world. A few years of double duty can be worth it.

It's not a way to live forever, but for people who can work like that, for a few years it can suit them really well.

The con of the startup racket is that so many people think they're buying their freedom with the 16+ hour days (and have been misled into believing that) when, in fact, the proportion who actually become billionaires or major venture capitalists is pretty terrible.

Awesome. Good luck, and I hope it works out for you.

I'm productive about 8hours in the day, but I put in 10-12 daily.

Overtime I'll start feeling like my managerial duties are productive uses of time. They are, but as a hardcore technologist, it's tough to shake the if !programming then wasting time.

What are you working on?

Just consulting and doing some project management stuff on the side, decided to do it full time because its fun.

The problem I used to have back in the day was that I didn't separate hours that felt productive from hours that actually were productive.

I could that 24 hour coffee & pizza fuelled session and push out a stupid amount of code. I could do that 60-80 hours week with the team and feel good about the work that I did.

Then I started measuring what was produced. Both in quantity (delivery rate of stories) and quality (how many stories returned with bugs) and other things besides. And compared that to what was pushed out in shorter days.

The short version is that what felt productive wasn't. That we produced more better quality stuff when we worked fewer hours. On several different occasions when I've had the opportunity experiment somewhere around 5-6 hours of productive work within 7-8 hours of working day seems to come up.

(The thing I find most fascinating about this was that several teams slipped back into stupid hours, despite the numbers, because the culture couldn't adapt to working less.)

No I'm sure that there are the odd outlier cases. The folk who really are productive over longer periods. But I'd strongly suggest trying to experiment and measure. Otherwise you might be doing what I was: confusing what feels good with what actually is good.

If we are talking about getting into the "zone" where we "create" - I think people would be really, really shocked at how little productive work one can do in a day. I think 4 hours is a huge-over estimation. If you could find someone who did that over a long term, they would be a rock star.

I'd be ecstatic to average one "creative productive" hour a day, averaged over a year. 99% of my actual "new" productivity comes in these tiny little sprints of brilliance, the rest is just coasting, waiting for inspiration.

I'd guess I get about 2 1/2 - 3 productive hours in a good week. The rest is just doing things like research, diagnostics, administrative work, email, meetings, post-mortem reports, etc...

Thankfully, I have a job (network engineering), where a lot of the work also involves auto-pilot tasks, like configuring network equipment, doing simple triage/diagnostics, delivering/ordering equipment, helping people, teaching people, etc...

From the outside it appears to be "productive" - but in reality it's the sort of thing you can do in entirely reactive manner without having to engage any ueber-higher order brain functions - I could probably do it for 10 hours a day without having to exercise those brain functions.

I answered 6-8 hours, although its rare they are adjacent hours of productivity. I am a student though, which may make me a little off-topic for this question, but it is time spent researching, designing, and implementing complex physical models in C++, Python, and/or Matlab (I'm a physicist, computational).

As I am a student... The hours can be very weird. I can walk around my room aimlessly, repeatedly, not capable of doing a single thing for entire hours. But then I sit down at my desk and churn out a few hundred lines of code and write up a report that uses the results of that code. "In-the-zone" can be anything from 3 hours to 6 consecutively, and what triggers it I do not know.

Some of my compatriots feel the need to fool themselves into working 12+ hours a day on their assorted homework/code-work... I try not to do this, and generally I'm very low-stress, because I know when I need to be I crank out pages upon pages of (hopefully high quality) empirical work (assuming I have the data). It's much less frazzling than "omg I can't see my friends or chill for even an hour for coffee... Because I have an exam on Monday". An hour never killed anyone :D

Just my 0.02

I'm pulling 10 hours a day of intense productivity out of 12-14 hours worked. New-ish job, exciting stuff and a culture which sets aggressive goals.

I've traditionally been a 6-8 hour/day producer and jumping up to 10 has been hard. I'm learning to put myself in the zone even when I don't feel it organically - like a form of mindfulness meditation. I also isolate work-time: if I'm in the office or in one specific spot at home I'm working and doing nothing else - no mail, no Twitter, no browsing. And I finish working before switching modes (so work doesn't lurk in my head all night). Jury is out on how long I can sustain this - if I had kids I can't imagine how I would so it. But on the upside, this pace has made my attention more acute, and on weekends when the work is put away I crave productivity on my side projects.

I'm 40 (I think age is important when measuring productivity of IT workers) and I can do 12 with a lunch break; however, I will be a zombie next day and half-zombie the day after. I do two long runs per week b/c it hurts my brain not to finish a module/task plus I hate to 'reload' the problem in my head the next day. Also, having the feeling of 'not done' makes me unable to disconnect from work and rest. On zombie days I do the no-brainier tasks or catch up with emails. Not sure if this a good strategy but I feel that in the long run I accomplish just as much.

I have 10-12 productive hours most days, and sometimes more if I'm highly motivated.

I work from home which eliminates 1-2 hours of commute loss, and untold loss from office chitchat and politics.

I disagree with the fundamental idea that time spent on meetings can only be productive for the team but not for you. In fact meetings can (should) be a time to share ideas, learn new things and ultimately make your work more focused. If you're doing meetings right, they prevent you from wasting time on inconsequential details and keep you focused on what matters. If you are bored and the details of your work are not even addressed, you're probably just doing meetings wrong.

4-5 hours max. I let my boss know that my productivity takes a nose dive after 8 hours, and after 10 it actually goes negative (I'm going home or you will regret this later)

4 is pretty much the sweet spot for me too.

can do more but the 4 are the most productive hours. an extra 2h are half productive (which i do anyway due to work req), an extra 4h even less so

3-4 solid hours of productivity is my sweet spot as well. Though it took me a while to figure it out.

There are times when I have pushed 6-8 productive hours per day for 2-3 weeks but what usually follows is 2-3 weeks of "unproductivity". Over the long run this is unsustainable and has caused me to switch jobs in the past.

I'm usually around 4 hours of productive work a day (i.e. not goofing off) on any particular project, but I can usually get two projects worked on in a day. They have to be different, though. I can't work on one thing for 8 hours straight, unless I've got the fear of God in me. But by that point, I'm so exhausted I really can't do any more, and that exhaustion could last through the next day and well into the third.

4 hours day here. I could do more but the traffic in Brazil is very hard to deal with. It takes like 2 hours and 30 minutes to come at the job.

I think the problem with threads/discussions like this is that you first need a clear definition of what 'productive' is. My definition of what I consider productive work is probably different from what other people consider productive work.

Until we are sure all parties are talking about the same thing, it's hard to have a useful conversation about productivity.

Really depends on what kind of productivity I'm trying to achieve. "Hard" tasks - some kinds of system design, and the long tail of certain kinds of debugging - I may only squeeze out 1-2 hours per day of effective work.

OTOH, there's plenty more "straightforward" tasks which, if not interrupted, I'll be productive for the entire time with.

It varies a lot. Some days it's about 2 hours, on my most productive days its nearer 12, but that can't be kept up for many consecutive days.

My hypothetical ideal is for most days to be around 4hrs emphasis on planning, coordination and preparing for flow, then if I don't hit it, just go home, otherwise work as long as it makes sense.

I find this depends entirely on what I'm doing. When I was working on a game full time on my own time, 12 hours a day consistently was easy, and things like eating, and my girlfriend at the time, were a nuisance.

At most of my day jobs, most of the time, I probably averaged less than an hour a day of productive time, with most days being zero.

I have picked up the habit of timing myself:

I start a stopwatch when I sit down with the clear intention in my head to get some focused work done (writing, coding) and I pause my stopwatch as soon as I lose focus or take a break.

I have been shocked by how little proper focus time I get on a daily basis.

I get around 3-4 sustained development productivity (of course, there are always other non-development related tasks to do).

If necessary, I can push this to 7-8 hours a day sustained for about 4 days, but then I need days to recharge afterwards before I really get anything done again.

Averaged out I get about 6 hours of productive time a day at work. The project I am on I am one of the lucky ones. A couple of people on my team regularly spend all day in meetings and get maybe an hour to work on code.

I feel like I get 4 hours of high quality coding per day. Then around 2 hours of lower quality coding. Anything more than that is usually futile.

After those hours, if I take a long enough break to clear my head, I can keep doing stuff.

4 hours is pretty much it for me. Its why i decided to work 6 hour days. The other 2 hours are for meetings and being around to answer questions co-workers want to ask.

6 hours is pretty much for me. That is if there's no distraction. Being disrupted drives the productive hours way down.

I feel like I'm making 2-4 hours a day.

The rest of the time, I'm producing 6-8, but the remainder don't feel productive.

A lot more since I learned to avoid getting sucked into internet discussions. Aaaw... Damn it!

10 but I am my own boss and can dictate my breaks. Certainly not ten in a row.

I am unable to code completely immersed for more than 50 minutes at a time.

That's fine. You should take 5 min break after every hour of staring at the monitor. In my country employer is required by law to allow you those breaks.

Which country is this ?


2 to 4 hours a day. I am a CS undergraduate student, am I lazy? :/

Where is 8-10 hours, and 12-14?

none, i'm kinda job less.

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